During a South Carolina gubernatorial debate on Tuesday night, the candidates were asked about the presence of the Confederate flag on the state house grounds in Columbia. Democrat Vincent Sheheen opposed the flag, saying, “I think that the people of South Carolina are tired of having an image across America that’s not truly who we are.”
Republican Governor Nikki Haley — the first Indian-American female governor — disagreed, and her reasons for doing so had nothing to do with the usual Southern claptrap about history and tradition:
“You know, the Confederate flag is a very sensitive issue. And what I can tell you is, over the last three and a half years, I’ve spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs, and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag. What is important here is that we look at the fact that yes, perception of South Carolina matters. That’s why we have everybody answering the phones, ‘It’s a great day in South Carolina.’ That’s why we’re being named the friendliest state and the most patriotic state and getting all these great accolades. But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor, when we appointed the first African-America U.S. Senator [from South Carolina]. That sent a huge message…”
It’s true the term “tone-deaf” gets overused, but flaming Fort Sumter does is it ever qualify here.
Shorter Haley: Race relations in South Carolina are all good because (mostly) white CEOs I talk to haven’t complained about the Confederate flag and because I — who am whiter-looking than your average southern Italian — was elected governor, and because South Carolina now has a black senator, but only because I appointed him, as South Carolina has never actually elected a black person to the U.S. Senate.
Haley is currently a heavy favorite to win reelection.